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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

PayPal’s Dispute Process – Slow, Even with Open and Shut Cases

eBay and PayPal’s dispute process is painfully slow. Especially when you believe you have an open and shut case. Not only that, but it appears based on my recent experience that they do not follow the process that they want you as a user to follow. Concerning, as it appears they do violate the user agreement which they ask you to adhere to.

As I mentioned in my “gray market lens” article recently, the seller that sent me a gray market lens in addition to having a standing seven day return policy (no exceptions) on their auction is refusing to accept a return for the camera lens. Rather than working out the situation, the seller decided to immediately escalate the case with PayPal to a claim from a simple dispute.

An additional important side note, eBay has now completely intertwined their complaint process with PayPal – if you used PayPal to make your purchase, you cannot also file with eBay to report an issue with a seller. This is unfortunate since many of the PayPal dispute criteria do not match with the sorts of eBay issues you can have.

The PayPal process is supposed to be the following. 1. One party escalates the dispute to a claim. 2. The seller has up to 10 days to respond. 3. PayPal provides the response to the buyer to see if there is a disagreement before proceeding. If the buyer disagrees, they are allowed to respond to the case. 4. Once both sides have responded, PayPal reviews the claim.

In my case, step three was completely missed and did not occur. The seller responded to the case on February 19th and then the case immediately went into the “Being reviewed by PayPal” status. What in the world was going on here?

After a quick call to PayPal, they mentioned in some cases that this happens. I asked why it would ever be in review status without having both sides of the story. Side-stepping the out-of-process issue with PayPal, the agent mentioned I could email PayPal at “” and they would document my issue and add it to the log.

My sense here is even if the “claim” is not resolved in my favor that I have quite a leg to stand on in terms of a dispute with a credit card. The reason is that PayPal has not followed the process that they outline in their member agreement. While I am hopeful this will not be the case here, it could always be a possibility!

In order to make sure my position was clear, I went ahead and sent in an email to the email address. PayPal logged it and the case continued. It appears that today PayPal contacted the seller again. My hope is that the case is on its last leg and PayPal’s contact was to confirm my position or ask for evidence that the seller did not offer the return policy.

Despite that, it does seem like this is taking an awfully long time – we are at two weeks since the dispute was changed into a claim. In that time, I have received no official contact from PayPal which is a little discouraging. Perhaps that does confirm my thoughts that this is really an “open and closed” case. I was assuming that the nature of this case would have an end result much more quickly.

Let’s hope it ends soon. That would mean I can return the lens shortly and get on without a gray market lens and buy what I really need. Have you had a PayPal dispute take this long?